BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — A hair salon on Buffalo’s west side is embracing the community while honoring its roots. The owner of Efrain Burgos Hair Salon on Niagara Street revamped his storefront this summer, highlighting his Hispanic Heritage.
“I grew up in Puerto Rico in a very poor neighborhood, in the projects, with no hope,” Efrain Burgos said.
Burgos did have something — a dream. He wanted to own a hair salon and cut people’s hair.
He moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Buffalo in the 1980s, and despite the many challenges, including being one of the first Hispanic hair salon owners in Buffalo, he made it happen. Four decades later, his business is still going strong.
“What my father has built here, really from the ground up, coming from Puerto Rico, really is a testament, not only to his resilience, but a testament to the Puerto Rican and human spirit, the desire to chase your dreams, to have something bigger than whatever you’ve been told you could do,” Burgos’ son Alexandre said.
“Even though I am a Buffalonian, Buffalo is home, and I love the people in Buffalo, they welcome me here since the first day. I also love my country,” Burgos said.
He wants to share the love he has for Puerto Rico with the Buffalo community. Every time he visited his home in PR, he’d bring a piece of it back.
“Then slowly I said, you know, I think I have enough items. I could do something now,” he said.
From musical instruments to paintings and collectible figurines, before he knew it, his back room at his salon was filled.
“To see them light up and see our culture it always makes me smile,” Alexandre said as he was pointing to a figurine that’s a favorite among people who stop by.
The Burgos family wanted the outside of the salon to match the same feel of being in San Juan. This summer the salon received a $40,000 revitalization grant from Erie County for businesses that took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Burgos used the grant to paint and remodel his building. Now everyone who passes by the salon can get a real sense of Puerto Rico, and the pride and joy Burgos has in seeing his dream become a reality.
“I never dreamed of having a hair salon, or I own a building, a house. I never dreamed of that. Even though I don’t have much, I feel like I’m a rich man,” Burgos said.